Back in my early days at Earthjustice I got into an argument with a colleage that has stuck with me ever since. She (no names) observed that if we—the movement in general—conceded that restoration of damaged ecosystems is possible that we’ll never be able to protect forests, wetlands, parks and the like because developers could simply say they’ll eventually restore the land to its former glory.
In fact, we have a case before the Supreme Court at this very moment, where a mining company says not to worry that its tailings will kill all life in Lower Slate Lake in Alaska—they’ll put it all back together, better than ever, when the mine eventually closes.
Sure. And what’s lost in the mean time?
Which is not to say that restoration isn’t often possible and to be pursued vigorously.
Now is an especially propitious time, and the government has taken notice. As reported in the Associated Press, the administration is planning to spend $228 million of stimulous funds on restoration of national forest roadless roads and bridges. This was one of the back stories in the debate over the Roadless Rule—the huge maintenance backlog on the national forests—thousands of miles of decaying roads that wreck water supplies, wildlife habitat, and occasionally fail and destroy people’s homes.
Indeed, restoration is going to be a bigger and bigger industry in the coming years. And there’s a wonderful website called Wildlands CPR, where you can keep up on the latest developments. Highly recommended.